The days of players and fans engaging in a guessing game over the NHL's scales and weights of justice are finally over. NHL Senior Vice President of Player Safety Brendan Shanahan made sure of that in one long-overdue move towards transparency.
This morning, the league announced that it had suspended Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman James Wisniewski for eight games after hitting Cal Clutterbuck of the Minnesota Wild in the head a few nights ago. The suspension made headlines on NHL.com, and when I clicked on the news link, all I expected to see was the usual one or two paragraph summary from the league.
I expected no guts. Just a small synopsis of when the incident had occurred, when the offending player could return and how much money would be forfeited to the emergency players fund. I expected the usual small-time press release that the NHL has made their calling card when it comes to big suspensions or over-sites.
But what awaited for me on the other side of the link shocked me.
Attached to the bottom of the release was a video of Shanahan actually explaining the suspension entirely. There is a replay of the hit in question and the Vice President of Player Safety walks us all through the thought process that lead to the ban. Shanny even summarizes at the end with a slideshow-style key points graphic.
Gone are the days of pundits, players, coaches and fans having to dissect snippets of video to try and make sense of a call or non-call. The NHL is going to do it for us, and while we may not agree with the choices, this transparency is a dagger to the chest that had become the guessing game of NHL discipline.
Colin Campbell always seemed to have a "hold all my calls for the day" mentality when it came to explaining his thought process aloud. He closed up the blinds, turned his chair away from the door and waited for the dust to settle.
It is clear that Shanahan isn't going to be this kind of shut-in sheriff.
That bodes well for a league that is trying to regain its barrings in light of new rules disallowing headshots. Players and coaches can pull up this video and at least think to themselves, "I can or can't do this or that. If I do this, there will be the penalty." That kind of clarity was hard to come by during Campbell's days of discipline.
Regardless of how you view the suspension itself, the way the news was delivered is of the utmost importance for the league, and I hope that the NHL continues to release these types of videos explaining their decision-making process.